Montgomery County police angered by SRO social media post removal
GAITHERSBURG, Md. - Montgomery County police officers took their frustrations to social media after the police department removed Twitter and Facebook posts that congratulated a long-time county police officer on his retirement – the social media posts removed also apparently made reference to the officer’s many years as a School Resource Officer.
READ MORE: Montgomery County removes school resource officers... kind of
SROs have been a hot-button topic within school districts across our region, especially as some schools face more frequent fighting this school year – the first full return to public school since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Montgomery County is among the counties whose leaders voted to remove SROs from school buildings this year.
After removed and edited, the updated messages shared to the county police department’s Facebook page at around 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 2 removes direct "School Resource Officer" language.
Part of the post reads: "Officer Lowery worked in different specialized units within the Department and for the last 11 years as a community engagement officer. Officer Lowery served as a liaison between the school and the police department to create a safe environment for students and teachers."
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Some of the current and former county police department members commented on the new posts, making sure to highlight Lowery was an SRO. We know many of the members posting also do not agree with the county’s decision to remove police from school buildings this year. Those who have supported the decision argue an officer in the schools does not mean they can stop fights.
"Officer Joe Lowery was an outstanding officer whose 33 years on the job deserve to be celebrated and admired. He was a school resource officer for around half of his career and epitomized the best aims of that program – to build relationships with students and the community and to make schools safer. We’re unsure why the MCPD chose to delete their tweet about Ofc. Lowery having served as an SRO, but we can only speculate that politics of the day influenced their decision and that’s too bad. We’re proud of you Ofc. Lowery. Enjoy your retirement!"
Read a statement from FOP Lodge 35 President Lee Holland.
FOX 5 did ask the police department about the decision to remove "SRO" language.
"The post itself, we wanted to make sure that it actually focused on his career and his achievements. By removing it and reposting it, we can now take away from distraction and focus all of our efforts on Officer Lowery and to for his service to Montgomery County – to the schools of Montgomery County and to the community," said Assistant Chief Carmen Facciolo with the Montgomery County Police Community Resources Bureau.
READ MORE: School resource officers no longer stationed in Montgomery County Schools
FOX 5 pressed about the frustration and anger removing the post caused. Facciolo responded, "Years ago we called police officers patrolmen. There was a language shift. And when we’re referring to officers after that language shift, I wouldn’t call them patrolmen. I would call them officers, right? We’re doing the same thing here."
Facciolo told FOX 5 on Monday the former SROs are now "CEOs" or Community Engagement Officers – with some of them now patrolling certain beats outside of certain schools as part of the police department and school system’s effort to clamp down on some of the violence the county schools have been seeing since start of the 2021-2022 school year.
Also reported on Monday, the CEOs are now also supposed to be tracking "impressions" or how many times they engage with youth as a way to try and measure whether this newer strategy has any impact.